Notes from Windward: #62

The Windfall Rule.

An enterprise such as Windward condenses out of the dreams and hopes of the people who are drawn to make it happen. Over time, the dream takes form, a process which involves the creation of both a physical and a procedural reality.

The physical reality involves the land, the building, life support systems, etc. which we've acquired and built over the years. Septic systems and phone lines don't a community make, but it would be very difficult to create a sustainable community without them.

The procedural reality involves the organization's legal and operational structure; the by-laws, the policies, guidelines, etc. which we use to make sure that we're all working in concert. Many intentional communities focus on the physical and spiritual manifestations of community while neglecting the procedural dimension. This is one of the reasons why very few communities last.

Windward does have some hard and fast rules such as no illicit drugs and no abusive conduct, and a violation of those rules can trigger an immediate expulsion from the community, but most of our "rules" are actually guidelines which we've worked out over the years in an effort to avoid the recurrence of disruptive problems.

An example would be the "10 to 12 Rule." We expect everyone living on site to put in at least two hours a day helping to operate Windward. In practice, most of us put in more time than that, but the intent of the guidelines is to establish a reasonable minimum.

We learned early on that it's best if that time is scheduled. Intentional community is a group effort, and there's a joy of participation and accomplishment that is heightened when you're doing work for the common good in the company of others who share the same desire and objective. It's good for the community and good for us to work together for a while in the morning, and then to gather for our common meal before going our own way and doing our own things during the remainder of the day.

Another example would be the "Three Month Rule." There are lots of people who seek out community as part of a quest for unconditional love and free sex. While we understand that, we're not amused. If someone wants to pursue a celibate lifestyle here, that's fine, and if they want to develop intimate relationships, that's fine too.

What isn't fine with us is the arrival of folks who want to use Windward as a low-cost "bed and breakfast" with the emphasis on " bed." The sad reality is that most folks don't know what they want; they're just going from option to option looking for " the right chemistry."

Maybe Windward will be right for them, but the odds are that Windward will prove to be a bit too real for their tastes, and they'll move on in short order. And that's okay with us; one of the "services" we provide is the opportunity to experience "team living" and the chance to see if it's a lifestyle that suits one's temperament. Windward is a place where one can find answers to such questions, but we all have to recognize that sometimes the answer is "No."

Windward is a great way to do certain things. It's a poor way to do other things. As the old saying goes, "face what direction you will, you still turn your back on half the world." No organization can be all things to all people, and it's folly to even try.

Once someone has been here at least three months, we'll have gotten to know a good deal about them, and they'll have gotten to know a good deal about us, both as a group and as individuals. If at that point they genuinely want to get involved with someone, and that someone else reciprocates their interest, then that's between them, but at least they'll have had a chance to see if this way of life is right for them before they get caught up in the emotional fog that usually goes with the initiation of an intimate relationship.

This three month hiatus is especially important when someone seeks out Windward in its role as a haven for those in personal turmoil and crisis. When someone is struggling to recover their personal balance, it's all too easy to latch on to another for support. The problem is that doing so makes it very difficult to center one's self.

The usual result is an emotional tangle that does no one any good, and usually results in the new person moving on. The intent behind the " Three Month Rule" isn't to meddle in someone's personal life, but rather it's set forth in recognition that a new person needs to put their heart on hold while they sort out the problems they already have.

Living in community is harder than it looks, and recovery is an every day battle in which the key to survival lies in not biting off more than one can chew.

Well, that was certainly a long winded introduction to the "Windfall Rule", but hopefully it shed some light on how Windward functions, and how we strive to defuse problems before they happen yet again.

The Windfall Rule

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